Thursday, March 17, 2016

Children's Mental Health Matters

Good mental health is vital for learning and life. Children are able to enjoy and benefit from good mental health as it helps them form positive relationships and with everyday experiences. Developing emotional health and experiencing school success depends upon the care that children receive at home, in our community, and at school. Developing and maintaining positive relationships, learning to cope with adversity and stress,  and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are ways to help our children face challenges. We can help children develop these skills, work through adversity, and build resiliency.

At some point, most every child faces some difficulty. When students experience problems such as getting along with peers, sadness, depression, anxiousness, or loss of a loved one, there are supports at school to assist our students. School psychologists, school counselors, social workers, and nurses routinely support students with mild to severe needs and identified mental-health conditions. On a daily basis, the student-services staff consult with teachers, parents, and community providers. In the Beaver Dam Unified School District, our student services staff provide classroom presentations about social/emotional development, protective behaviors, and social skills. Some students who are experiencing more struggles may receive individual counseling or work in a group with other students. When needed, our staff partners with community professionals to help the student(s) and parent(s).

As a parent, you can help your child face challenges by thinking positively. Modeling positive attitudes and positive emotions is very important. Using a “can do” problem-solving approach to situations teaches children a sense of power and promise. Express love and gratitude! Praise should always occur much more often than criticism. Positive emotions buffer kids against depression and other negative reactions to adversity. Express yourself! Parents who help kids become more aware of emotions, label emotions appropriately, and help children deal with upsetting events are giving their children useful life skills. Get fit! Healthy eating habits, regular exercise and adequate sleep protect kids against the stress of tough ordeals. Regular exercise also decreases negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and depression. Foster competency! Children who achieve academic success and who develop individual talents, such as playing sports, drawing, making things, playing musical instruments or playing games are much more likely to feel competent and contain the ability to deal with stress positively. Having friends, staying connected to friends and loved ones, and helping others can also foster and increase resiliency.

If you would like more information about children’s mental health or have questions about services, please contact your child’s school and speak with a student services staff member.You may also visit our district website to learn more about our services at the following web address: or

Excerpts from: “Resiliency: Strategies for Parents and Educators,” Virginia Smith Harvey, Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators, NASP, 2004